Delta of Venus

on October 13, 1995 by Kim Williamson
"Paris, January 6, 1940. Again, she wrote all night.... Her cravings were vague, poetic." Within moments of this opening voiceover, young American expatriate/blooming writer Elena (Audie England) is running toward a fogbound Seine, where each morning she watches as a French rower (Costas Mandylor) dips his strong, hard oars into the soft, frigid water. The film's sensuality set, Anais Nin's literary erotica "Delta of Venus" in the hands of erotic filmmaker Zalman King (the overripe "Wild Orchid") becomes a stage for sexual sequences involving St. Tropez dancers, a Nazi sympathizer, a red-haired prostitute, a West African clairvoyant and opium-den aficionados amid intermittent appearances of a narrative throughline that tracks the romance between Elena and the rower and Elena's emergence into womanhood via her increasingly unabashed writings for a collector of erotica. King clearly puts serious thought into his efforts here (some of the settings and his framings are not only atmospherically beautiful but charged with complex meaning), but in the end his conveyance of Elena's discovery of her delta of venus, the secret place inside a woman that gives her life its essential potency remains beyond his grasp, never seeming more than a drive toward indiscriminate intercourse. Once on the Fine Line slate, this 1994 production arrives virtually unannounced from New Line in a re-edited final cut that altered an earlier R-rated intended-for-video version to NC-17 theatrical status. Starring Audie England and Costas Mandylor. Directed by Zalman King. Written by Elisa Rothstein and Patricia Louisianna Knop. Produced by Evzen Kolar. A New Line release. Drama. Rated NC-17 for explicit sexuality. Running time: 100 min.
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